Lovage (Levisticum Officinale)
A handsome, robust plant with attractive, deeply divided leaves, lovage will stand proud in your garden, growing up to 2m. Its older stems become hollow and make a tasty straw for your Bloody Mary – a great way to do your bit on plastic reduction.
The versatility of lovage knows almost no bounds in your kitchen. With a flavour akin to celery but with bags more character and a spicy, slightly citrussy undercurrent, a few finely chopped young leaves can add a whole new dimension to any number of dishes: frittata, a wintry casserole, vegetable stir fry. It’s soulmate is without doubt the British-grown tomato, a marriage made in heaven. Tomato and lovage make a perfect sauce for your pasta, grains, rice and grilled foods of all sorts. Combine aromatic lovage with peas to make a delicious soup that will lift the spirits. Or crush lovage seeds to add a new dimension to your baking.
A herb with a long history, lovage has many uses notably in medieval love potions where it was said to be an excellent aphrodisiac. Perhaps it explains the ‘love’ in lovage. The ancient Greeks and then the Benedictine monks chewed the seeds to relieve flatulence. All You Need is Lovage, as the Beatles so nearly sang.
One more invaluable tip from the Middle Ages. Lovage leaves have antiseptic and deodorising properties and travellers would regularly pop them in their shoes. Other products are available but you could give it a try and follow in the footsteps of our forebears.
Sow seeds directly into your garden’ preferably in a sunny position. It’s extremely enthusiastic growing habit may be intimidating, but you can cut the plant back and new shoots will appear. This is a good idea anyway as the younger leaves have a less intense flavour. Let your lovage die down over winter and it will start over in Spring.
Love Parsley, Sea Parsley, Smallage